Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body | Met Exhibitions


Luke Syson: This exhibition is called
Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body, from 1300 to Now. So that’s 700 years
of extraordinary sculptures that were made to persuade the viewer that something human lurked at the
core of an inanimate sculpture. Sheena Wagstaff: It occupies the top two floors
of The Met Breuer, quite an extensive group of works. It is an extraordinary urge that creative
people have, to create simulacras of ourselves. So what we do in the exhibition is we explore that. Luke Syson: We’re looking at all the tactics
that artists use to really convince the viewer that what they’re seeing is an
alive human being. Or sometimes a profoundly dead one. Sheena Wagstaff: These include wax, something
soft that evokes flesh. Luke Syson: Body parts—
human hair, teeth, bones, dressing the sculpture in real clothes. Sheena Wagstaff: Other strategies are using
fabric, such as Louise Bourgeois, where you have stuffing that is literally
bursting out of the seams. Luke Syson: Above all is the application of
color. Sheena Wagstaff: It opens with this extraordinary
piece by Duane Hanson. It’s almost as if one is being confronted
by a human being. That is an effect that a visitor will experience
going through the exhibition. What we’re not doing is a chronological walk
through time. We’re creating conversations between the past
and the present. Luke Syson: So for example, a figure of Saint Sebastian, carved in Spain at the beginning of the 16th century
by Alonso Berruguete, with a polychrome sculpture by Reza Aramesh, made very recently, showing a young Palestinian man who’s been stripped down to his underwear and is both humiliated and eroticized in a
way that is very similar to the Saint Sebastian. Perhaps the most bizarre object is
the so-called “auto-icon” of the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham. When he died in the 1830s, they made a waxwork portrait of him, but inside the body is his own skeleton. Sheena Wagstaff: Ultimately, what we’re trying
to ask is what the relationship is between art and our mortality. It doesn’t necessarily mean death, but it
does mean this moment that we’re in, this moment of transition, which is life. Luke Syson: These works are profoundly about
the human condition, about love, desire, death, illness. So as much as this is a show about art, it’s also a show about us,
about our common humanity.

7 comments

  • Hades

    Interesting.

    Reply
  • Jackie Stoner

    Nicely done, Iris!

    Reply
  • Deanna Woody

    Beautiful art work

    Reply
  • bjorkroly

    eww creepy

    Reply
  • Greig Roselli

    If you have time and you are in New York City this Summer, check out the exhibit "Life Like." I particularly like the Duane Hanson piece entitled "Housewife." I have seen his work before, and I love how his 3D representations of a human being draw me in – looking at his works make me make up stories in my mind. That's good art, y'all. #metbreuer #art

    Reply
  • Marek Goliaš

    Smart, fresh, good music

    Reply
  • amazed wanderer

    Can't stand this sort of editing and bad music.

    Reply

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